It was the Night before Christmas

Ornaments in the Snow by Kat Caverly

We had already been to two other tree lots. It was after 10 pm on Christmas Eve and it was closing time. My friend’s mood went from bad to worse. At best Jim’s Christmas spirit this year could be described as “conscientious objector”. His wife, Lynn, is a genuine Earth Mother and full of holiday cheer-you-up. But none of it was rubbing off on Jim.

At first Lynn and I were so sure that it was going to be as easy as Christmas cookies to find a great tree for under $15. That’s all Jim would allow Lynn to spend on a Christmas tree. That was two hours ago. This is our last chance. The eleventh hour was near and the pickings are slim.

We left Jim brooding in the car, and we went skipping into the lot yelling out to anyone that could hear us, “Oh please don’t close, not yet. It’s Christmas Eve!” A young man who has already started turning off the lights in the back appeared. He said that he is tired and they are closing up. We promised to be quick. There are only a few trees left, most of them also pretty tired.

And there it is. The most beautiful Christmas tree we had seen all night. We asked how much, only to be told that this tree was fifty bucks. “Fifty bucks!” We both looked back at Jim in the car. Even with the windows closed you could still hear him ranting. In harmony we implored the young man, “Do you have anything for $15?”

After a few frantic minutes we did find another good tree, but this one was $35. We were told that we might be able to talk the owner into giving us a break. After all this would be the last sale of the season. He pointed to a small white trailer at the end of the lot. “Pay there.”

An old man sat in the dark at the lone window of the trailer. When we got close enough he slid it open and sat silently at first looking us up and down. Before he could utter a word, Lynn and I go into a duet about how much we love Christmas and how a tree is going to make our season bright and how we found an amazing tree on his lot, and on and on about Christmas Eve, how we couldn’t afford it and that we only had $15 to spend and finally we were out of breath.

Then the man at the window told us his Christmas story.

A story about his beloved wife. He said she loved Christmas as much as we did. She had died of cancer. It ‘s his first Christmas without her. They would have been married 50 years. He told us to go get the tree that we really wanted. We reminded him we could only spend $15. He just repeated, “Go get it!”

Well, he didn’t have to tell us again. We ran to the car. Jim had the money. We were both so excited we were talking at light-speed. Jim grunted something about a capitalist plot and handed over the crumpled bills.

The young man took the tree to Jim’s car and we ran back up to the trailer. I handed the money to the old man, but all he did was shake his hand “NO” All he would say was “Merry Christmas”.

Even Jim had to smile. It was a Christmas miracle.

©Kat Caverly 2015


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